Frequently asked questions relating to Chelsea leasehold conveyancing
I wish to sublet my leasehold flat in Chelsea. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Is permission from the freeholder required?
Your lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, it will say if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. Most leases in Chelsea do not prevent strict prohibition on subletting – such a provision would undoubtedly devalue the flat. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the sublease.
I have recently realised that I have 72 years remaining on my lease in Chelsea. I now want to get lease extension but my freeholder is missing. What are my options?
On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be lengthened by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you have done all that could be expected to track down the landlord. For most situations a specialist should be useful to conduct investigations and to produce an expert document which can be accepted by the court as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor both on investigating the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court covering Chelsea.
I today plan to offer on a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have since been informed that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns purchasing a leasehold house in Chelsea. Conveyancing solicitors have not yet been appointed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Chelsea ?
The majority of houses in Chelsea are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are purchasing in Chelsea in which case you should be shopping around for a Chelsea conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they have experience in advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions for example requiring the landlord’spermission to carry out alterations. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer should advise you fully on all the issues.
My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Chelsea. Conveyancing and Barclays mortgage organised. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing practitioner in Chelsea who acted for me is not around.Any advice?
First contact HMLR to make sure that this person is in fact the new freeholder. You do not need to instruct a Chelsea conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for a few pound. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.
Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Chelsea. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?
Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to be sure to have an up to date clear service charge receipt before completion of your purchase. If you have a mortgage this is likely to be a requirement of your lender.
If you purchase part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded even if they relate to a period prior to your purchase. In such circumstances your conveyancer would normally arrange for the seller to set aside some money to cover their part of the period (usually called a service charge retention).
I have given up trying to reach an agreement for a lease extension in Chelsea. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?
Where there is a missing freeholder or where there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation you can apply to the LVT to make a decision on the price payable.
An example of a Lease Extension case for a Chelsea residence is 150A Albert Palace Mansions Lurline Gardens in July 2013. The Tribunal determined that the premium payable for the new lease of the subject property was £42,069 This case related to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 57.06 years.